Last month Manchester steakhouse Hawksmoor hit the headlines after seeing the funny side of things when a waiter accidentally served a £4,500 bottle of wine to a customer. In a jovial tweet the restaurant remarked that mistakes happen and told the presumably mortified waiter, “we love you anyway.”
Meanwhile and in stark contrast, casual dining chain Wahaca made the news this week when a customer who happened to be a former council leader, contacted the chain via social media after a waiter was allegedly asked to foot the bill after some other customers legged it without paying.
Initially Wahaca responded by saying the problem was an "internal communications" issue but after the tweet went viral, the company backed down and said that staff would never now be asked to pay for customers' unpaid bills.
While any business that expects employees to make a financial contribution for errors should be regarded as unethical, the incident is particularly unsavory given that waiting staff are often subject to the living wage.
A PR nightmare for Wahaca but a PR win for Hawkesmore who have since been recognised as one of the best UK hospitality employers by The Caterer, the leading trade magazine.
Hopefully the Wahaca furore will teach unscrupulous bosses that immoral employment practices can backfire. One things for sure, I won't be paying my local Wahaca a visit any time soon but if I lived in Manchester I would be keen to check out Hawksmoor.
Wahaca ends policy on making staff pay for customers' unpaid bills Poppy Noor Mon 17 Jun 2019 15.43 BST A Wahaca restaurant in central London. Wahaca said the incident was caused by an ‘internal communications issue’. Photograph: Alamy Stock Photo The restaurant chain Wahaca has been forced to change its policy, after a waiter was told he would have to pay part of the bill when customers left without paying. The former Labour leader of Camden council Sarah Hayward contacted the company on social media on Saturday 15 June after hearing of the policy, saying: “Hi @wahaca just eaten in your Kentish Town restaurant for the last time. Ppl next to us left without paying and their server is made to foot the bill from his wages. Apparently company policy. Utterly shameful employment practice.”